Why is a Provisional Patent Application so important?
The first suggested step in the patent acquisition process is filing a Provisional Patent Application.
Provisional Patent Applications allow a filer to document his/her invention and establish potential patent rights with a small monetary investment.
With the passage of the America Invents Act in 2011, the Provisional Patent Application has increased in importance for those looking to ensure ownership of their intellectual property. In years past, those with the proven date of invention had rights. Now the United States has moved to a “first to file” system where only those who have filed first with the USPTO will have rights.
Filing a Provisional Patent Application ensures a filing date to the applicant, which can be the first step toward obtaining a US patent or any international patents. This filing date will not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a non-provisional utility patent application within 12 months.
Think of it like this… A Provisional Patent Application gives you 12 months to further develop your idea, get financing, create a prototype, etc., while reserving your rights to your idea. It not only reserves your US rights, but also any international patent rights.
The level of detail included in a provisional patent application is one of the most important factors influencing patentability. However, a Provisional Patent Application need not include the formal patent claims that are required of a later filed non-provisional application.
When a Provisional Patent Application is filed, you can use the “Patent Pending” designation in advertising and packaging. Having a patent application on file may help you license your invention or raise funding to develop your idea or business.